It was Kathy, a friend and former teaching colleague, who filled my head with dreams of owning an Abbey. Five years ago, she moved into her Abbey in a nearby Epcon community, though not Maples at the Sonatas where I live. After settling in, she invited me over to see her new home. I went, stayed long enough to fall in love with it, and left promising myself “someday….”
But as I was driving home, doubts began to set in. A new home just didn’t seem like a realistic possibility for me. I felt trapped in the town home that I owned, even though I had paid off the mortgage. My elderly mother lived in the building next to me. How could I move farther away? Besides, I would have to sell my place before I could think of buying a new home. And I was living on an Illinois teachers pension, not exactly a failsafe source of income.
Rather than give up on my dream Abbey entirely, I became a stealth customer at Maples at the Sonatas. For the next three years, I would show up periodically, check in as briefly as possible with the salesperson, and insist on walking through the models on my own. When I finished, I would go directly to my car and drive away. Yes, it was rude, but I felt it was the best way to avoid follow-up calls. Finally, Jon, an infinitely patient and kind salesperson, talked me into filling out an informational form.
The turning point came in the summer of 2010. It was a golden time for me, when a lifelong dream of writing a novel came true, complete with book signings and enthusiastic buyers. I thought my life couldn’t get any better, but I was wrong.
Shortly after my book launch, a friend suggested I go back to visit the Maples because models of the new, unattached homes had recently opened. Why not? It had been several months since I had plagued Jon with one of my nonproductive, noncommittal visits.
As he and I walked down the street toward the models, Jon casually suggested we stop and look at an Abbey. It was a great deal, he said, completely finished with lots of nice upgrades. The price had just been reduced, too. Sure, I said. Why not?
Sappy as it sounds, as soon as we walked in I knew I had found my home. I loved everything, the sun pouring in the windows of the veranda, the colors and finishes, the appliances, everything down to the smallest detail.
I don’t even remember the subsequent tour of the models I had supposedly come to see. All I wanted to do was go back to the Abbey, which I was already daring to think of as mine.
With my thoughts in a whirl, I went home. But a few days later I was back to take pictures. All the while, I was trying to calculate whether I could actually afford the home without waiting for my old place to sell. A talk with my brother, the math major, eased my worries.
Then I timed the drive from my new place to Mom’s and found it less than five minutes. That was workable. Another obstacle fell.
Soon I was meeting with Jon, asking him the detailed questions I should have been asking all along. I had my answers, took a really deep breath, and said I wanted to buy my Abbey. What was the first step?
Signing a contract and making a deposit, he said.
When can I do that? I asked as I reached for my checkbook. Can I do it right now? I had been inching toward the decision for three long years, but I couldn’t wait another day.
Jon managed to keep a straight face as he said that would be fine.
I uttered a phrase for the first time that day, words I have repeated countless times since. Home sweet Abbey!